I went on a boat ride along the Mekong River at the Golden Triangle where Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand meet. The views were stunning from this wide river. We crossed over into Laos for a few hours to meet with local people.

Laos is vastly different from Thailand. It is a very poor country with minimal resources.

Steps led into the river where we witnessed a mother bathing her butt naked children.

Shacks lined the Mekong River. Dilapidated, it was a miracle these didn’t fall right into the river. You could see cut outs from the floors of these shacks which served as the toilet for its inhabitants.

Huts built over the river

From the river we saw several high rises being built, looming over the Mekong and the landscape. These were hotels and casinos being built by the Chinese who have a strong interest in Laos to connect tourism and other businesses to Laos. With the country being so poor, the Chinese are investing in the infrastructure into Laos to allow future commerce.

Chinese Casino on the Laos side of Mekong River

Entering Laos, we visited a local market. Here many goods were similar to those in Thailand. Others were very obviously high end designer replicas – much more so than I saw anywhere else in Southeast Asia.

The people at the market were friendly – too friendly – on the aggressive side. I was close to making a purchase but the aggression turned me off. So I walked away to peruse other stands at the market. The original Laos guy FOLLOWED me throughout the market and even grabbed my arm at one point to try to convince me to purchase the original item I was looking at. No thank you. I don’t know if this was out of desperation from living a life of poverty or a cultural difference.

Shipwrecked barge against the Laos border

Thai side with beautiful gold Buddha off of the riverbanks: